Betts upbeat despite White loss
Widnes Vikings coach Denis Betts is staying positive despite seeing his bottom-of-the-table side suffer another major injury blow.
Half-back or hooker Lloyd White, 23, the club’s only ever-present in their first year back in Stobart Super League, is facing season-ending knee surgery after being hurt in the Vikings’ 42-34 defeat by Catalan Dragons on Sunday.
The Wales international is waiting to discover the full extent of the damage to his anterior cruciate ligament but Betts is resigned to losing him for the rest of the campaign.
“It could be a knee re-construction,” he said. “We’re still waiting for the scan to come back but we’ve got a good idea from the physio and he’ll probably miss the rest of the year.
“It’s pretty tough. You’ve got to feel for Lloyd. He’s done really well. His consistency is down but it’s getting better and he needs to play.”
White, who will miss Wales’ mid-season international against France on June 16, will become the fourth Widnes player to be ruled out for the season, following the loss of Anthony Watts, Ben Kavanagh and Simon Finnigan with major injuries.
However, the Vikings are more hopeful that stand-off Joe Mellor, who is three matches into his loan spell from Wigan, will make a quick recovery from the ankle injury he sustained against the Dragons.
Betts feared the worst when Mellor was carried from the field on a stretcher but now says he could even play against Warrington Wolves in Saturday’s derby at the Magic Weekend in Manchester.
“He’s just maybe trapped a nerve,” said Betts. “He couldn’t feel his ankle and that’s why they stretchered him off.
“It seemed pretty bad at the time but it’s settled down and he’s responded pretty well. There’s a possibility he could play at the weekend.”
The Vikings are bottom of the table at the halfway stage, with just two wins from 14 matches, but Betts insists it is not all doom and gloom at the Stobart Stadium.
“It’s character building,” he said, speaking at the launch of the Magic Weekend at the Etihad Stadium. “The beauty of it is that it gives us an idea of what we need to do to improve next year.
“This is not year one, it’s year zero, this is our building year. The players that are here will develop.
“If we didn’t make any signings next year, we will be better. How much better I don’t know but we will be better because of the time we spend together.
“We get used to the playing surface and we get used to the whole environment.”
On top of their injury woes, Widnes have released two players - Watts and Scott Moore - for breaches of discipline and suspended three others for unspecified off-field incidents.
Betts admits the club “took a punt” with certain players at the start of the season but he is happy with the stance they have taken.
“We won’t sit back and just brush it away and keep it quiet,” he said. “We’ll chop it away because we know it’s the only way to grow the club.
“I won’t let a player stay just because he’s a good player. There is more to the game and more to the club.
“Hopefully I’ll still be part of the club in five, six or 10 years and we’ll see an environment where being successful is part of what you are.
“Values and standards at the club mean more to us than what it is possible to see on the field.
“You can believe that every other side is clean and doesn’t have problems or you can believe they are hiding them away.
“But we’re not here to be like everybody else, we’re here to do what we think is right.
“It starts with the chairman and it’s one of the reasons I got the job. We won’t be made to look foolish.”
Warrington, whose game against Widnes is second up on the opening day of the Magic Weekend, are among the clubs leading the way with ticket sales, having topped 4,000 so far.
Overall sales have exceeded 50,000, with organisers anticipating the final figure to beat the 60,214 aggregate attendance for last year’s event in Cardiff.
Castleford Tigers get the weekend under way at 1pm on Saturday with a derby against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.